GROOMED TO BE CONNED.

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This is a picture of a man I befriended on FACEBOOK under the belief he was a reader of my novels. He said his name was ROBERTO ONORATI and lived in New York. I get a lot of hits on my blog from the US so was not surprised at the contact. But yesterday coloured lights started to flash and loud bells began to ring when the discourse took a sinister turn.

Please note I have relayed the messages as they were sent.

RO:     There is something I want you to do for me as a friend Please life is all about trust can I tell you I am in a little problem and will need your help.

Me:    How can I help?

RO:     Yea thank God Am in offshore job right now and my kid needs to pay some tuition fee in boarding if not they will drive him home. I want you to help me and promise to pay back there is no way I can send money. I want you to trust me please if you can help its just $350 can you help me please.

I DID NOT REPLY AND IMMEDIATELY ALERTED MY SON.

MESSENGER: You missed a call from Roberto. Sat: 8:57.

I DID NOT CALL BACK, but instead referred it to my son as it was news to me one could make calls to speak personally on FB messenger.

RO:     Hello please reply me when you get the text I am in desperate need to help my son According to staff he has been crying since yesterday I don’t want him getting hurt, please help me.

After further discussion with my son at what I should do to stop this happening to someone else who just might be taken in by this person, I contacted FACEBOOK and ACTION FRAUD UK, but was not impressed with their replies which are computer generated. It seems a crime has to be committed, and some unsuspecting person has to be fraudulently relieved of some of their cash before anyone will do anything about it. I do understand there are certain people who will derive pleasure from maliciously reporting malpractices on the social media, but one hears of so many of these scams that at least they should be looked at individually. The answer is not to simply unfriend the person who will then go on to their next victim. Can nothing be done to stop these people?

I do suspect, though, the picture above is of a perfectly innocent man whose photograph has been stolen from somewhere only to be used to fraudulently obtain money by deception. And if my suspicions are correct them I hope the man above will be as annoyed as I am that someone is using him in this way.

After a lengthy pause, the last message RO sent reads: ‘Hello dear please replace me’  What the hell does that mean?

But do you know what annoyed me the most, was the fact he thought I would be that gullible. But looking on the positive side, being a writer I now have another scenario for a story on my growing list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GETTING OVER THE HUMPS

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I am almost half way through my seventh book – 40,000 words in – a historical fiction novel, set in France during WWII with the main character a female SOE agent. I know how this story pans-out from beginning to end, but I am at that point again – in the middle – where I have to build a bridge from one chapter to another without there being a big hole to traverse.

It is not writers block as they say, but an architectural problem which I have talked about before. Stories are like buildings. (see PROSE IS ARCHITECTURE published 28th August 2015) The only other analogy I can think of is that prose is like the inside of a house, it has to flow and fit the person living inside i.e. you the readers. If the words don’t flow then it halts the reader, and when that happens you find yourself reading certain sentences again. This is something I try to avoid, and I do that by re-reading and editing everything I write several times over. It sometimes takes about ten read-throughs before I am satisfied with the end result. When I feel I can do no more then the book is published.

I do not like to talk too much about my work in progress so will not give any more details away regarding story or characters, apart from the ones I have imparted above, but when this book is finished, I feel a sequel coming on.

“THIS IS MY DEMON”

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The title of this blog is a line from a poem which was recently posted on Facebook by an ex-serviceman, my son, who is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD as is it commonly called. It also goes by the name of Shell Shock, Combat Stress, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, but no matter what label you care to give it, those servicemen and women suffering from it live in a hell that we can never understand unless something traumatic happens to us. The poems he has written when he is in the most darkest of places are succinct as he sparingly uses words that are only relevant to how he is feeling at that moment. It is not difficult to come to the conclusion that the person writing them is in a deep hole at the time of writing.

My son has been suffering PTSD for nearly twenty years. It’s sometimes been a rocky twenty years for those nearest to him. Partners have come and gone, PTSD being a contributory factor to the breakdown of relationships. But mothers and fathers never go away, neither do the sufferers children or the sufferers siblings. It is not only the person who has to carry this demon, but his family also, especially his wife. But what is most disconcerting is that these men and women are often strangled by the Official Secrets Act and therefore will not, or cannot, talk about their experiences because of the consequences it might incur. So how are they to survive without talking to someone?

Anyone who knows someone with PTSD will be familiar with what happens to their loved ones when they suddenly involuntarily start remembering, or having flashbacks, as it is often referred to. They can experience physical pain, night sweats, nightmares, irritability, aggressiveness, lack of sleep, lack of concentration, panicking, binge drinking, the inability to hold down a job, and self destructive behaviour. It is as if they are wanting to be punished to allay an overwhelming guilt complex. They would rather be with those who have died, and not living in their own private hell. But along with this goes embarrassment and humiliation at their condition. I have sometimes wondered if something we say might bring about these remembrances, but it is totally an involuntary memory of which the person has no control over.

My son has recently had to go through the trauma of applying for a War Pension because of his PTSD. I believe all those that have been in war situations should automatically receive this at the end of their service. These men and woman put their lives on the line for Queen and country, so let the country give them something back immediately. But I suppose we should be thankful that this disorder is now being recognised, and even though my son has been given support he is still unable to tell them anything about his experiences because of that strangulating Official Secrets Act. He recognises he has PTSD, but I feel he is left in a catch 22 situation. So what’s he supposed to do? Grin and bear it? Put up with it? As he says in his poem, the PTSD controls him, not he control it.

I will readily admit that in the past there have been a couple of occurrences when I have wished he had been killed in action. A terrible thing for a mother to think, let alone say, but he would be out of that continuing pain and suffering that impacts on his life so much. Perhaps this last bout was the hump he had to get over before coming down the other side. That may sound optimistic on my part as I know it will never go away. He will live with it for the rest of his life, and so will his very supportive wife, his children, and us: his mother, father, brother and sister.

Time and time again we have told him how proud we are of him, but the last stanza of his poem says it all about his frame of mind when he wrote the poem. It reads: “I am torn, I am ripped, I am shredded, I am human”. But putting one of his poems on Facebook might be a turning point for him as he has never shared them publically before. It’s always good to share.